The Oxford Dictionary of Psychology defines positive psychology as, "the psychology of valued psychological phenomena, such as contentment and satisfaction (with the past), hope and optimism (for the future), and happiness and well-being (in the present). It focuses on positive subjective experiences, such as love and aesthetic appreciation; positive individual qualities, such as courage, interpersonal skill, perseverance, originality, and wisdom; and positive social phenomena, such as cooperation, altruism, and tolerance." It defines self-actualization as, "the motive to realize one's latent potential, understand oneself, and establish oneself as a whole person."
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It is important to understand Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs if one is interested in personal growth. Maslow's hierarchy shows us that each human first needs their physiological and safety needs to be met to experience love and belonging. Love and a sense of belonging or connection to others is needed to build one's self esteem. Finally, once all of these human needs are met, then it is possible for humans to try and maximize who they can become or who they will become. This process is referred to as self-actualization. Importantly, one cannot achieve self-actualization until their basic needs for shelter, safety, love and belonging are met. Once the essential needs are met, one gains self esteem and can then work on the process of self-actualization--the process of becoming your best self.
Above: An Illustration of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs
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